Alaska is home to 75% of the Pacific Halibut Caught in the world. The waters surrounding Homer are considered the halibut capital of the world due to the number of pounds of halibut caught in these waters each year. In most years, Homer typically brings in more Halibut in both the sport fishery and commercial fishery than any other major port in Alaska. This includes Seward, Kodiak, Whittier, Valdez, and more. The beauty of Kachemak Bay combined with an excellent halibut fishery makes for one of the best fishing experiences anywhere in the world. 

Our Fishing Grounds

Not surprisingly, knowing where to fish is where it all begins when fishing for halibut. We are so fortunate to have such a massive and fertile fishing area at nearly 4,500 square miles. The fishing grounds begin almost as soon as we leave the Homer harbor extending as far north as Ninilchik and as far south as the Barren Islands. 

These waters are home to millions of halibut, rockfish, lingcod, shark, Octopus, Skates, and more.

Where we fish depends on the type of trip we’re taking that day, previous days fishing quality, and of course, we always keep a mindful eye on the weather. But, the entirety of the area in red are areas we might fish on your trip.

Example of the semidiurnal cook inlet tide swings

Tides & Currents

The tides of Cook Inlet are absolutely monstrous and managing them is very important for successful fishing for halibut. The difference between Cook Inlet’s high and low tides can be up to 35 feet – the highest tidal range of any coastline in the United States, and the fourth largest in the world. At times, underwater geography and the massive tidal swing creates what is known as a bore tide in Turnagain Arm. The only bore tide located in the United States, and one of only 60 in the whole world.

Halibut have to live through this tidal swing every 6 hours. During part of that tidal swing when the current is at its peak they will hunker down on the bottom in the sand. As the current starts to “slacken” the fish will become significantly more active and use their keen sense of smell to hunt during this period. This is the time when the fishing is the best.

Scenting a Trail

Using a chum bag is one of the most effective ways of fishing for halibut. A chum bag is a mesh bag that easily allows water to pass through it. 

The chum bag is filled with chopped up herring, sardines, salmon, and oils. We put a very heavy weight on an electrically controlled downrigger and lower the chum bag to the bottom. As the current passes through the mesh chum bag the oils are carried off in the current. Once the halibut downstream of this chum bag get a whiff of that tasty scent they come running straight our waiting hooks!

A chum bag for creating a scent trail is floating in the water about to be lowered to the to bottomw
A good sized halibut is brought to the surface and still in the water with a jig in it's mouth on one of Homer Halibut Hunters' charter fishing trips

The Swing

When we start fishing for halibut on anchor the tide will typically be moving pretty fast but slowing down in speed. We may have to begin with some fairly heavy weights, such as 3 lbs to 4 lbs in order to keep the bait on the bottom. However, as the tide slows, we can lessen the amount of weight and eventually fish with 1 lb or less. But eventually, the tide will start to move in the opposite direction and the boat will do the same, “swinging’ to the other side of the anchor. This is fantastic as now our scent trail will be brining in fish from the opposite direction! This gives us opportunity for another round of great fishing. 

While the tidal swing in Cook Inlet can be huge this is not always the case. Some days the tidal swing might only 8 feet. On these kinds of days we can fish on anchor for the entirely of the day. However, once the current is too swift to keep the bait on the bottom we may need to change to drifting and jigging. 

Hooks & Bait

Herring is the bait of choice when fishing for halibut but we’ll also use salmon, octopus, and even sometimes build a little seafood cocktail on the hook when we’re feeling saucy! 

Circle hooks are our preferred choice of hooks. We can be down a couple hundred feet at times and that’s a lot of line to be “setting the hook”. Circle hooks are designed in a way that as the halibut strikes at the bait on it and turns away, in sort of a hit-and-run fashion, the circle hooks more or less sets itself. 


An example of a circle hook and herring used for halibut fishing
Kodiak Custom Fishing Tackle Bottom Fish Jigs come in a variety of colors, shapes, and weights


When the current is moving so swiftly it’s difficult to keep bait on the bottom using 3 lb or 4 lb weights, we’ll change our tactics and move to drifting and jigging. 

When drifting while fishing for halibut we’ll pull the anchor in, set the boat up over an area we would like to target and then let the current drift the boat over that region. It’s pretty amazing to feel the difference in the current from being anchored up to drifting. Then it’s time to pull out the jigs like those seen to the left made by Alaska’s own Custom Kodiak Fishing Tackle. 

Jigging involves putting the jig on the bottom, usually with herring bait on the hook as well, and lifting it up off the bottom with your rod and setting it back down on the bottom. This is a very effective way to fish when the current is too strong to anchor and a great way to stay engaged with the fishing.


Landing A Beast

Halibut are extremely powerful fish. When that power arrives in the form of a 200 lb beast special precautions need to be taken for the safety of everyone on board. 

Smaller fish are either released in the water or pulled up with a net. Medium sized fish approaching 40-100 pounds will be gaffed and lifted overboard. And when they reach more than 100+ lbs it’s time to start thinking about pulling out the gun. 

Shooting the fish in the water will ensure that once lifted aboard it’s massive size, strength, and ability to throw around what is now a dangerous 4 lb weight, will not cause harm or injury to guests, staff, equipment or the boat.

A good sized halibut is brought to the surface and still in the water with a jig in it's mouth on one of Homer Halibut Hunters' charter fishing trips

Filleting The Catch

We love taking pictures and helping capture those memories of a great day of halibut and multi-species fishing in Alaska. We also know that time is precious and the last thing anyone wants to do is sitting around port for a few hours after a long day of fishing and waiting for your fish to be processed. 

After taking some great pictures, our skilled deckhand will get to work filleting your catch on the ride back to the Homer Harbor. Upon disembarking, you’ll be given your fillets that can be taken directly to any of the many processors for vacuum sealing and freezing.


Taking Your Catch Home

How do we get our catch home?”, is probably one of the most common questions we get asked. Nearly every sporting goods retailer, grocery store, food processor, and more, all carry airline approved fish boxes like the ones seen here.

The cold storage fish boxes are designed for 25, 35, and 50 lb sizes. They have a very thick inner layer of styrofoam surrounded by an outer layer of cardboard. When filled with frozen fish these fish boxes will keep your catch frozen for 48 hours or more without the use of dry-ice.

Taking your catch back with you as checked baggage is always the most economical solution. However, if you’re not going directly home from Alaska, there are plenty of places to store your catch and have it mailed to you. The average two day shipping price for US destinations is around $200 and is around $300 for overnight. 

A variety of different fish boxes can be used to take your catch home with you
Map showing the different halibut fishing regions as set by IPHC

3A Halibut Limits

Alaska’s halibut fishery regulations are managed by NOAA. We are located in region 3A – one of Alaska’s largest managed regions. Region 3A includes our areas of Homer, Kachemak Bay, Cook Inlet, Kodiak Island. It also includes Seward, Whittier, Valdez and Cordova.
NOAA puts annual restrictions on which days are available for halibut fishing and daily limits. Usually these are announced by March 31st each year. While these limits change annually they are usually very close to the following:
  • Two halibut per person per day, No annual limit
  • One halibut can be any size and the other must be 32″ or less
  • No charter halibut fishing on Wednesday

Ready To Book?

Choose Your Fishing Adventure!​

3/4-Day Halibut

$275 May & September
$325 June, July, August

  • Meet 7:30 AM For 8:00 AM Departure
  • 5 – 7 Hours Duration
  • 45 – 70 minutes to fishing grounds
Drifters lodge staff show off their limits of halibut caught aboard Orion with Captain Jimmy Counts of Homer Halibut Hunters

Full-Day Halibut

$350 May & September
$400 June, July, August

  • Meet 6:30 AM For 7:00 AM Departure
  • 8 – 9 Hours Duration
  • 1 – 1.5 hours to fishing grounds
Homer Halibut Hunter customers show off a massive haul of barn-door halibut,

Trophy Halibut & Rockfish

$400 May & September
$450 June, July, August

  • Meet 6:30 AM For 7:00 AM Departure
  • 8 – 9 Hours Duration
  • 1.5 – 2 hours to fishing grounds
6 massive halibut are hanging with anglers smiling behind them

Halibut & Salmon

$400 May & September
$450 June, July, August

  • Meet 6:30 AM For 7:00 AM Departure
  • 6 – 8 Hours Duration
  • 1 – 1.5 hours to fishing grounds
Two anglers hold up three yelloweye rockfish caught in Kachemak Bay, Homer Alaska

Triple Threat: Halibut,
Rockfish & Salmon

$450 May & September
$500 June, July, August

  • Meet 6:30 AM For 7:00 AM Departure
  • 9 – 10 Hours Duration
  • 2 – 2.5 hours to fishing grounds
Homer Halibut Hunters customer holds a huge Kachemak Bay King Salmon

Salmon & Rockfish
(Wednesday Only)

$400 May & September
$450 June, July, August

  • Meet 6:30 AM For 7:00 AM Departure
  • 8 – 9 Hours Duration
  • 1.5 – 2 hours to fishing grounds